Holiday season coupled with a down economy breeds scam artists. Scams are popping up every place you look. Below I will highlight some scams that still seem to be going on.  They sound very convincing on the phone and can fool the best of us.

According to Federal Trade commission – the highest percentage of total frauds are Credit card fraud followed by Utility Fraud and bank fraud.

1                   You can get a phone call from the fraud department of one of the credit card companies that you deal with. The ‘beauty’ of this one is that they do not ask for your credit card number, which makes it even more convincing. They already have your credit card number. What they will say is that they detected some fraudulent activity on your account and they have to credit your account for the money. That makes it seem even better!

What they are looking for are the last 3 digits on the back of your card. That is the missing link as far as they are concerned.

They will proceed with confidence asking you to just verify the last digits on the back of your card after they basically tell you what your address is and/or last digits 4 of your credit card are.

In such a situation the best thing to do is to ask them for a number so you can call them back immediately.  After that of course call the number on your credit card and tell them what happened.

2                   You get a phone call saying that you are approved for a credit card. These are usually made to people with low credit scores since they are most likely to get excited about an offer for credit. The pitch is usually very professional “You have been approved for …..”. What they want at the end is your bank info for the initial fee for enrollment. “this will help you build credit blah blah etc…”. After which you are likely to receive a UPS package, which will be exciting until you see that there is no credit card offer. Just a bunch of other offers!

3                   You get a letter from a company saying something like “your insufficient check has been forwarded to this office for immediate action”. If a payment is not received within 7 business days from the date listed below, your check could be filed with the appropriate municipal court.

If you call them up an ‘investigator’ will speak to you saying that you wrote a check that bounced. They will sound threatening. When you ask for details they will give you a minimum amount of info saying that their system is down  but that you should send over a certain amount of money atleast to keep from going to court  (or even prison)….you get the idea.

4                   Keep an eye out for all you’re credit cards that you do not use. Check activity regularly. Thieves are getting smarter. They do not steal or find a credit card that is not theirs and go on a spending trip out of town (that will shut the card up automatically). They usually spend a little where they found the card so it does not raise a red flag. Than wait for a day and go nearby to spend some more.

5                   Using your Debt card too often can also create problems. Scammers are attaching a skimming device to an ATM machine that is not a part of the original ATM machine. That device captures the pin number and credit card number etc. Ones they have the number they can easily create their own credit card (a fake one of course) that basically can be used, drawing money from your credit card. Hard to spot Skimming devices but if you notice a change at your ATM like a color difference in the card reader or a gap where something appears to be glued to the slot, it is a source of concern. The safest way is to use a trusted, regularly used ATM machine like inside a bank. The corner store grocery is a no no. The scary part about this is that since your info is stolen you can have your credit card in your pocket and still money gets withdrawn from your card. You will not bother to check since your card is not stolen. Automatic gas stations are notorious for this.

6                   The ‘Cash back’ at a super market. You have a lot of goods that you just bought. The list is long. The cashier puts in $10 or $20 extra, as if you requested‘cash back’ as a customer from your card. You do not bother to look at the bill. The cashier either pockets the cash back amount or gives it to his/her friend that is next in line buying something else!!

If you do look at the bill and see a cash back that you did not request the cashier will either request you to take it since they would have to ring everything up again, claiming the machine might be faulty. The cashier might even insist that you did request it while still apologizing for what happened.  The sad part is that most will not suspect that this was deliberate and even if they do they cannot prove it since the cashier will just void the transaction and ring it all up again. So as far as the scammer is concerned, they can either make some money or worst case, NOT get caught. That just encourages them to keep doing it. There have been cases of investigation. All I am saying is, watch out for it.

7                   Payday Loan collections: Some collection agency will call you up, usually an oversees outsourced ‘fake’ collection agency. They will claim that your payday loan has been defaulted on and you have to pay or you will be taken to court etc etc. Their whole purpose is to collect anything from you …the more the better but anything they can get is good enough. Of course they only call people who have really defaulted on their payday loans (an increasing number these days). If the person asks for more information they will give a number to an attorneys office. That number is usually a DID number that directs calls to another department of the same office, meaning that it is completely fake. The ‘attorneys’ office will tell them that they were already mailed a letter alerting them of the situation etc. Since the customer has actually really defaulted on the pay day loan it is easy to fall for this scam.  These companies usually go on and on since for a couple of hundred dollars people usually do not hire an attorney to help them in this situation. Attorneys probably cost more, than the scammed dollar amount, to just handle the case.

Please feel free to share your own experience. Something that you have heard or experienced/seen first-hand.


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Collection accounts:

FDCPA is what regulates collection agency activities. Basically you write a letter requesting validation/verification of the account. Do not get hung up on terminology.  You are simply requesting information on the account, pursuant to the FDCPAct. If the collection agencies respond you are not obligated to be satisfied with what they send you. Of course if they send you exact signatures on a document that you clearly signed it will be a little ridiculous denying the document.

During their investigation they cannot, by law, purse their collection activities. If they do you can sue them.  Remember that EVEN if 30 days had passed from the account going into collections you can still request information. You want to have a more aggressive (almost an air of superiority) approach and at no time accept or deny the account. You can write a letter per month inquiring about each and everything thing that you see on your credit regarding that account. Of course you will also reference the FCBAct. Plus indicate your right and ability to sue if the need arises.

Dealing with collectors phone calls could be another headache.  Just a couple of points:  Never assume what the collectors CAN do. Check your state laws. For example, not all states allow collectors to garnish your wages or put a lien on your house.  So if the collectors threaten you with that than they are breaking the law and you can file a complaint. In the case of telephone calls you have to look into TCPA, Telephone consumer protection act.

As you can see the credit repair process is not really fun. You will have some success and you will end you wasting your time but each removal makes a difference on your report.

You will be surprised how many things go unchecked because companies are not really used to people disputing items persistently enough. Collection agencies (& creditors in general) have far too many accounts they can move on to that will not give them the headache that you are giving them. Be persistent…. but will class.